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Thursday, January 6, 2011

41. Ten things that surprised, humbled, and enlightened me...


You guessed it!  I received the Ancestor Approved Award from Leslie Ann.

The requirements are that I need to...

1.  List ten things that surprised, humbled, or enlightened me about my ancestors.
2.  Pass the award on to ten other genealogy bloggers.

My Ten:
1. I am quite humbled by my grandfather Emory Wallace Vance.  He was born in South Carolina in 1901 in Carlisle, Union County and later migrated to Ohio in the 1950's.  He never spoke of life in South Carolina, but after my family moved here so that I could continue my research, I began meeting people that knew of him.  The children of friends, friends, and distant cousins absolutely revere him.  I am so surprised that 60 years later, people can tell me stories that were passed down to them.

I was invited to a homecoming last year by a cousin.  When I went I was surprised to be asked to stand on his behalf.  As it turns out, my grandfather lived across the street form the church and had donated the land where the church is built.  A church historian told me that there is a document in the archives where my grandfather is said to have made the contribution "on a handshake."

2. At one time, I used to be surprised to run into people who think they are related to me.  When I run down my family line with them, they always seem to find some connection.  This is surprising to me because my ancestor come from all over the state.  This happens everywhere I go.

The last time it happened, my husband and I were attending the Heritage Days Symposium on St. Helena's Island last November.  We were crossing a parking lot and some gentlemen yelled out from a van, "Hey, hold up, where are you from?'  He was mostly speaking to my husband.  A lot of people think at first he is the one they are related to because he looks like my relatives more than I do.

He looked exactly like my grandmother Otis' people from Union County.  I smirked as he tried to find a connection to mu husband.  After they were finished I told home he looked like the Tuckers.  He was shocked when I also told him he looked like my Chicks.  He has known these families all his life.

The next day after I had given a presentation, a lady came up to me and asked me if I was related to people in Columbia.  They happen to be my cousins on the Vance line.  She was so elated to me me.  I am just so thankful my ancestors lived such good lives.  I feel like I have an instant bond with people that knew them. I hope my posterity can experience this same thing.

3.  One person who I never met, but have spent a great deal of time learning about is my great grandfather, Lafayette Franklin Vance (1861-1952).  I used to have a hard time fitting in with people because I find fun what other people call work.  I love to follow true principles because the end result for me has always been happiness.  I was surprised to discover a biography about Lafayette that was written in     the early 1900's.

In the biography it described him as being someone who lived during the week what he preached on Sunday.   I saw myself in an ancestor for the very first time.  It did not really matter anymore whether or not how anyone else felt at that point.  I began to feel free to be me because it linked me to him.

4.  When I discovered the Senate testimony of my great great grandfather, Beverly Vance who was from Cokesbury, South Carolina, I wept.  I was reading his actual words.  He was a constable just after the war, and he used to help people understand that they needed to vote Republican so the Democrats would not be able to take away the freedoms that they had been given.

His home was riddled with bullets while his wife and children were home.  One of the children was Lafayette.  He said they withheld work from the family because of his political activities.  His life was threatened by many even D. Wyatt Aiken (1828-1887), a Democratic Congressman who was a good friend and neighbor of his former slave master, J. K. Vance, a US Representative of South Carolina.

Members of the Vance family warned and tried to protect Beverly behind the scenes.  He was in the area when Senator B. F. Randolph was murdered at Hodges Depot in Cokesbury.  Beverly never backed down even when his life was in danger.

5.  I am humbled and think quite a bit about stories my grandmother told me about how life was during the Great Depression.  She told of my grandfather raising rabbits that they would cook and eat.  They never wasted or threw things away.  My grandmother lived a long time. I am sure it was because they always ate plenty vegetables from the garden and apples from the trees.  I even learned that she loved dried orange peels.  There is never a meal that I do not remember them.

6.  One concept that I came to appreciate when I moved South is how close everyone was back then.  They did not go far to pick a spouse.  They appeared next door to each other on the Census.  When I visited my first church cemetery and walked among the graves, I could see the censuses I have poured over time and time again.  They were even buried together in the churchyard, family and friends.

7.  Some of the talents and skills that my ancestors practiced for years lasted to my generation.  They were great writers and loved education, art, horticulture, carpentry, and much more.  I have been enlightened to the fact that I picked similar things in my life not because they were some whim I was having at the time.  I truly have been moving to the sound of a familiar drum beat so to speak.

8.  I know I have been enlightened by the old adages that were instilled in me.  The sayings like "What goes around, comes around" and "Use your head for more than a hat rack"  we used to laugh at as kids. Now I have lived long enough to see the truth in them.

9.  My ancestors lived by faith.  I always heard them express their dependence upon God when time were tough. They would rehearse stories about how they knew that if it were not for Him, they would not make it.  My grandmother Ora, made me memorize the 23rd Psalm just before she died.  I was about 5 or 6 years old.  She made me read it over and over in just one sitting

I did not know at the time she probably knew she was going to die.  That made such an impressing upon me that has lasted my entire life.  Every time I think of her, I remember how important those words must have been to her.  She knew she would not be with me throughout my life as she had been with her children, so that makes the words mean that much more to me.  Of all the things that she could do or leave her granddaughter, she instilled in me the words of the scriptures.

10.  My ancestors have helped me understand the importance of loving all people no matter who they are or what they do to us.  "Two wrongs do not make a right".... I can still hear them say.  I have been taught by example the importance of service.  I marveled to witness my grandmother provide service her entire life.  She would push around a chair to do her work when she was sick.  She would get up from labor to go out to perform duties on their farm.

She suffered from arthritis later in life, but when she could have used an excuse she would walk to the home of an invalid woman to care for her.  She never grumbled or boasted.  She never spoke of it to me.
Her face was always cheery, and her countenance was always a glow.

Ten Genealogists:
1.  @footnoteMaven footnoteMaven
2.  Felicia Mathis  Echoes of My Nola Past
3.  Renate Sanders  Into The LIGHT
4.  Carol Wilkerson iPentimento | Genealogy and History
5.  Mavis Jones Georgia Black Crackers
6.  Michelle Goodrum Turning of Generations
7.  Diana Ritchie  Random Relatives
8. Jenna aka @SeekingSurnames Desperately Seeking Surnames
9.  Sherry Kline Family Tree Writer
10.  Sandra Taliaferro  I never Knew My Father

Thanks for the opportunity to reflect, Leslie Ann!


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